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18557-Austin Smeenk photo

Austin Smeenk

Athletics

Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Impaired muscle power
Origin of Impairment
Congenital
Classification
T34

Further personal information

Residence
Oakville, ON, CAN
Occupation
Athlete
Languages
English
Higher education
Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering - Fanshawe College: London, ON, CAN

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
He was introduced to athletics at age six at the Cruisers Sports club in Mississauga, ON, Canada. "I started out at the Cruisers doing Para ice hockey, and then track, and also picked up wheelchair basketball, and I did all three at once. And then I really started to excel at track and got focused in on that around 2012."
Why this sport?
Therapists encouraged his interest in athletics while he was receiving treatment at ErinoakKids in Ontario, Canada. The organisation provides rehabilitation and support services to children with impairments. "When I was a young boy, I just wanted to play sports, go fast and try new things, I really just didn't want to be left out of sports at all."
Club / Team
Cruisers Sports: Mississauga, ON, CAN
Name of coach
Lisa Myers [club]
Training Regime
He says he likes to be competitive during training sessions. "The animal in me is alive, well, and strong. Even when I'm pushing a warm-up, I'm like, 'We've got to pick it up a little bit.' The animal side of me wants to be competitive with every aspect, the warm-ups, workouts, and cool-downs, all of it."

International debut

Year
2013
Competing for
Canada
Tournament
World Championships
Location
Lyon, FRA

General interest

Nicknames
Smeenker (Instagram profile, 24 Jun 2019)
Hobbies
Golf, fishing, snowmobiling, camping. (Athlete, 11 Nov 2019)
Most influential person in career
His first coach Ken Thom. (Athlete, 11 Nov 2019)
Hero / Idol
Canadian Para athlete Alister McQueen. (Athlete, 11 Nov 2019)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Plan the work, work the plan. Trust the training." (Athlete, 11 Nov 2019)
Awards and honours
In 2014 he was presented with the Outstanding Male Track Events Performance of the Year Award by Athletics Ontario in Canada. (athleticsontario.ca, 01 Oct 2014)
Other sports
He played Para ice hockey at provincial level in Canada. (Athlete, 11 Nov 2019)
Ambitions
To compete at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. (Islandstats YouTube channel, 04 Feb 2021)
Impairment
He was born with hereditary spastic paraplegia [HSP]. The condition causes weakness and stiffness in the legs. He is able to walk short distances and ride a bicycle. (insidehalton.com, 28 Jun 2013; erinoakkids.ca, 15 Jul 2011; paralympic.ca, 01 Jan 2018)
Other information
RACE PREFERENCE
He initially competed in middle-distance events before switching his focus to the sprint events. "I'm competing currently [speaking in 2021] in the 100m and 800m. I also like to throw in the 200m and 400m, 1500m if we can, depending on what level of competition we're at. I consider myself a middle-distance guy who figured out his starts. The one thing at every race that you have to do is start. So the 100m was always kind of on the side to my middle-distance preparations. But once I'd figured out the explosive aspect that we worked on in the transitions so much with Lisa [Myers, coach], we were really able to make up some ground there and find my place to be in the sprints as well." (Islandstats YouTube channel, 04 Feb 2021)

PARALYMPIC DECISION
Despite qualifying for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, he decided not to compete at the event. Having discussed his options with his parents and his coach, the late Ken Thom, he came to the conclusion that it would be too soon for him to compete at the highest level given his young age, especially as he was using a borrowed wheelchair at the time. He went on to compete at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where he represented Canada in the T34 100m and T34 800m. (SportsDeskOnline, 05 May 2017; msn.com, 19 Jul 2012; insidehalton.com, 18 Jul 2012; paralympic.ca, 01 Jan 2018)

Results

Unit Date Rank
IPC Athletics World Championships (Lyon, France)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 200 m T34 Semifinal 2 2013-07-21 8
Men's 200 m T34 Final 1 2013-07-22 7
Men's 100 m T34 Semifinal 1 2013-07-23 8
Men's 100 m T34 Final 1 2013-07-24 8
Men's 800 m T34 Final 1 2013-07-25 8
Men's 400 m T34 Semifinal 2 2013-07-26 5
Men's 400 m T34 Final 1 2013-07-27 6
IPC Athletics 2015 World Championships (Doha, Qatar)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 400 m T34 Heat 1 2015-10-23 11
Men's 100 m T34 Heat 2 2015-10-27 13
Men's 200 m T34 Heat 1 2015-10-30 10
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 100 m T34 Heat 1 2016-09-11 2
Men's 100 m T34 Final Round 2016-09-12 6
Men's 800 m T34 Heat 2 2016-09-13 4
Men's 800 m T34 Final Round 2016-09-14 9999
World Para Athletics Championships London 2017 (London, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's 100 m T34 Final 1 2017-07-15 4
Men's 100 m T34 Heat 1 2017-07-15 3
Men's 400 m T34 Final 1 2017-07-17 6
Men's 800 m T34 Final 1 2017-07-20 8
Men's 200 m T34 Final 1 2017-07-21 5